No. 7 Stanford has not trailed in a game at any point this season, but may be facing its toughest test to date when the team travels north to take on Washington State on Saturday.
“They look more athletic,” Stanford coach David Shaw said of the Cougars. “They’re playing hard and making plays. They’ve done a good job slowing people down.”
Stanford (5-0, 3-0 Pac-12 North) built a commanding 31-7 lead over Washington State (3-2, 1-1 Pac 12 North) in last year’s matchup and was able to fend off a late rally by the Cougars. The Cardinal won the game 38-28.
“There are some similarities [to Arizona],” Shaw said. “They’ve got some dangerous receivers.”
Sophomore Marquess Wilson has been a consistent target for quarterback Marshall Lobbestael, collecting 633 yards and five touchdowns.
Lobbestael is finding targets all over the field as his 1,570 yards and 15 touchdowns are better than Andrew Luck’s totals.
Stanford has given up an average of 240 passing yards per game, but has only yielded four touchdowns.
“Passing yards given up is the biggest misleading stat there is,” Shaw said. “The biggest stat for a defense is touchdowns allowed.”
Shaw has sent a message to his defense.
“Don’t give up the big play. Come up and tackle them,” Shaw said.
Defensive lineman Chase Thomas has been a key to the success of Stanford’s defense.
“Chase is slippery,” Shaw said. “He’s not the biggest guy, but he can collapse the pocket.”
Thomas leads the team with five sacks and three forced fumbles.
“He’s the best college player I’ve seen at using his hands,” Shaw said. “He’s a very good complete pass rusher.”
Shaw said his team is playing between 80 to 85 percent of its ability.
“It’s one thing to get beat; that will happen in big time college football,” Shaw said. “But when you have a lapse in an assignment, that’s not acceptable.”
Stanford has gotten a lot of production from its tight ends, but Shaw said for the team’s success to continue, the wide receivers need to play a bigger role.
Griff Whalen has started to become a more consistent target for Luck, catching 13 passes.
“For us to be successful we have to continue using those wide receivers,” Shaw said.
Washington State is coming off a road loss to UCLA 28-25, while Stanford defeated Colorado 48-7 last week.
Stanford tied a school record by winning 13 straight games with its win against Colorado last week.
Stanford vs. Washington State
WHEN: Saturday, 4:30 p.m.
WHERE: Martin Stadium, Pullman, Wash.
RADIO: KTCT (1050 AM)